School Garden

BY Jennifer Rogers

Stony Brook Elementary

Project Description

I am the new Science teacher at Stony Brook and would like to continue the school garden established last year with the help of one of your generous grants. The Wellness Initiative at our school strives to encourage students to bring in healthy snacks/lunches as well as encourages classroom celebrations to include fresh fruit and veggies. Over the past several years I have noticed a distinct change in the choices children make, especially during class parties when the decision really is theirs to make. More often than not they are choosing the healthy options over the sugary alternatives. Of course they still enjoy Birthday Cupcakes and cookies but they are not the only option and in many cases not the most popular one. Having a garden that the students participate in every facet of is vital to continuing this trend towards healthier choices. In some cases the school garden is the first opportunity some children have to actually see what a real carrot looks like from seed to plant. I can’t tell you how many are surprised at the size because the carrots they are exposed to are mini and come in a bag. The students are truly invested in the planting, watering, feeding and harvesting. After every visit we deliver the fruits of their labor directly to Mrs. Drown, our cook. She incorporates our carrots, tomatoes, onions, peppers, potatoes and numerous herbs into the lunches she prepares for them. The look on their faces when they sit down to eat and realize that something they grew is not only nourishing them, but it tastes good too, is truly a gift!

How will the project be evaluated (e.g. how will you gauge its success)

The success of this project is the ability to provide a true garden to table experience for many students who would not otherwise be given that opportunity. Children should be aware of where their food is coming from and how fulfilling it can be to care for and then enjoy fresh produce. It is the hope that instilling this lesson early on will be the foundation for a lifetime of healthier choices and habits.

Benefit to the students and the school

Massachusetts is in the process of formally adopting the Next Generation Science Standards.  Science is once again becoming an important part of young children’s curriculum and in the elementary years learning about the structures and processes of plants is an integral standard.  What better way to learn this than by seeing the growth process from seed to plant and back to seed.  Anytime we have the opportunity to make the learning process hands on for young children we are giving them an invaluable gift! The school also benefits from the harvest and being able to utilize all this fresh produce in our lunches for students and staff.  It is my hope this year to generate more family involvement by giving them the opportunity to share in the care taking during the summer months and in return they too can share in the harvest by bringing fresh vegetables/herbs home to enjoy.

Timeline of Project (when will you do the project, if applicable)

The project will kickoff in early spring and continue throughout the summer into early fall.